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The Source Podcast: Delivering Investment Insights with Innovative Artificial Intelligence

8 November 2022

(10 min podcast) In this episode of The Source, eVestment’s podcast featuring experts discuss trends in institutional investing, Russ Elliot, Head of Asset Management Market Intelligence at eVestment is joined by Patrick Murphy, Founder of the PureGroup/XALT platform. XALT is a point-of-sale insights platform that prioritizes data and analytics to optimize the efforts of distribution teams in the asset management industry.

Listen now:

In their conversation, Russ and Patrick discuss how a customized data experience driven by artificial intelligence and dynamic insights empowers distribution teams to deliver enhanced client engagement and better outcomes.


Russ Elliot: Welcome to the Source Podcast. I’m Russ Elliot, Head of Asset Management Market Intelligence here at eVestment, a part of NASDAQ. I’m joined today by Patrick Murphy, the founder of PureGroup and the XALT platform. XALT is a point of sales platform prioritizing data and analytics, designed to capture and optimize efficiencies for asset management distribution teams. Welcome Patrick.

Patrick Murphy: Thanks for having me, Russ. Happy to be here.

Russ Elliot: We’re so glad that you could join us. Our conversation today, sensors around the recent partnership forged between eVestment and PureGroup. If you could kindly just provide our audience with some background on the XALT platform, how it evolved to be, and how you are driving insight to empower distribution teams.

Patrick Murphy: Great. That’s a good question. So XALT is a point of sales insight platform, which puts data at the heart of asset management distribution teams and enables them to be digital first, effectively giving them better insights so they can deliver maximum value to their clients and drive asset growth.

How we do that is we ensure that they have the data, the information, and insights, that ensure that they’re informed and empowered, about the positioning of their products, where they sit in the marketplace, and how best to present those to their clients. We do this through a number of ways.

We use a wide variety of data providers; Morningstar, Sustainalytics for ESG data, and now excitingly eVestment for the institutional data sets. We pull that data together and using a range of dynamic templates, integrations with our clients CRMs. We present to the sales teams actionable reports that they can educate themselves on how best to move those vital sales conversations forward. Crucially, for our clients, it helps them reduce research time and preparation before meeting clients and after speaking to clients responding to their direct questions with direct answers.

Russ Elliot: Thanks Patrick for sharing that additional detail there. So in terms of the individuals using the XALT platform, is it predominantly client facing individuals leveraging the insights or does it expand beyond the distribution teams?

Patrick Murphy: So you’re right. At the core of our offering, we support client facing roles across internal and external wholesalers, internal support teams, but anyone who really is trying to drive client facing content, that’s the core part of our user group within asset managers. However, increasingly it is internal resources like investment specialists and CPMs and market intelligence teams. They’re using the tool to ensure that they get their vital voices heard at that point of sale. So how they effectively can push valuable insights, short form insights about what’s happening in the portfolios, how it might be impacting clients’ outcomes. At that point, so the sales team can efficiently speak to their clients. Importantly for us, we’ve seen a desire to push that further, expand that into other data sets. And now excitedly we’re moving towards the institutional data set to support consulting relationship teams as much as institutional sales teams within those organizations.

Russ Elliot: Excellent. That’s fascinating and can certainly see, how that would drive value. So obviously we’re now excited to be part of that and having investment data integrated into the XALT platform to help deliver these strategic insights that sales teams can then leverage as part of their analysis, and for their client engagement. Could you just expand a bit more on the algorithms and hyper-personalization that the XALT platform offers and how the AI from the XALT platform delivers actionable intelligence?

Patrick Murphy: This is the really fun and amazing side of the application. It’s something that we internally say, helps our clients become faster to the insights.

Effectively, what we do is all the heavy lifting, the data ingestion from multiple data sources and alignment. We then have bespoke calculations and visualizations and sit on top of that. What we want to do for our clients is deliver reports and content that help them stand out from the crowd. To move away from reports that look and feel like everyone else on the street.

If we can look at the value proposition of one of their strategies and create a visual that stands out and demonstrates that. We want to enable it for the sales team so they can use it automatically with their clients, understand the positioning that they have within the marketplace against direct competitors and be able to educate and inform their clients and move them along the sales journey. So, when we create the dynamic reports, they’re custom built for every one of our clients. Really trying to help them exceed where they currently might be providing standard reports.

Further to that, we inject the data with relevance to their specific clients. So, if we have the data that helps them contextualize what should be shared with the client, such as the holding period the client has been invested in, or specifically periods of interest historically. Then we’ll prepopulate those reports so they’re instantly personalized and they can be distributed to the clients.

So that’s when we say the hyper-personalization factor. We want to make sure that everything that comes from a salesperson to their client is relevant specific to that client and the questions that they’re asking.

The final aspect is then leveraging on top of this, artificial intelligence. So, we use a rich source of data such as Morningstar, eVestment and Sustainalytics. We then run natural language generation over the top so that we can create performance statements that are relevant to that client in the context of the products they might be considering.

So effectively, we can capture that information. Share it with their client instantaneously and then move the conversation along. The cool thing with this is we capture all of the structured data of these conversations, and it helps us over time build a rich suite of information about how best to service that client and the activities of the sales group as a whole for the management teams within asset managers.

Russ Elliot: Wonderful, that’s excellent and thank you for outlining that. So thoroughly there. It really sounds like there are inherent efficiencies realized here and also the kind of preservation and best use of operational and investment resources. Just building upon that, could you discuss the trends around global markets, you know, in Europe, in North America, and what you are seeing in terms of, digital solutions like XALT making traction across both, retail and institutional markets?

Patrick Murphy: What we see as a European, technology business. We see that the trends in the wholesale market about delivering a more immediacy of data to clients, more continual updates and information about where their strategies are sitting, how they’re positioned, and that information flow has translated more into the institutional landscape. So now there is a greater demand to keep consultants and clients updated continually about how the products themselves are performing, where they sit in the market, the context, and how they’re dealing with the upcoming changes in the market. What we kind of coined that as a sort of more a retailization of the institutional markets.

Likewise, there’s been a more institutionalization of the retail markets where typically there’s been a lighter weight view on some of the analytics. We’re now seeing wholesale clients demanding greater detail on what’s actually occurring within the portfolio. Where’s the value being added, where are the risks, and having a greater transparency below the sort of top line performance numbers.

Russ Elliot: Excellent. Yeah, certainly digital transformation is a whole, is certainly a topic we hear about on a broad basis and here at NASDAQ is an area where we spend a good amount of time discussing digital transformation. So how do you see XALT as a component of this post pandemic digitized era that were now in and how does fit into the kind of broader asset management landscape?

Patrick Murphy: That’s an interesting question, Russ.

A lot of commentary that came out in the last sort of six to eight months has been around how the pandemic has sort of accelerated this digital transformation, and actually I feel that this trend has been in flight for a number of years. The key thing here is a recognition by asset managers that they need to do more to engage their clients. They need to have more meaningful conversations. They need to be able to always provide value from the initial email about; this is an interesting product or proposition we want to put into onto your radar all the way through the sales cycle, and that has to be constantly updated. It needs to be timely, it needs to be relevant, so we need to ensure that information flow from internal teams who are managing the products, structuring them, and marketing them.

Gets to the sales and facing teams as efficiently as possible. So they can share it with their clients. That digital transformation, I feel, has only just started within asset managers, that communication, speed of communication, and all that’s going to do is enable us to have better relationships with our clients. Can we ensure that our clients have that information and knowledge, transparency of what’s occurring within these portfolios, so they themselves can dispense their obligation to their underlying clients, be they, pensions and trustees all the way through to discretionary fund managers and wealth managers who are dealing with their retail clients.

Russ Elliot: Excellent. That makes sense.

Thanks so much Patrick. We really appreciate you spending some time with us here today. Really excited about the partnership between the PureGroup and specifically the XALT platform with eVestment, a part of NASDAQ. So really excited as to what this will enable our clients to be able to do with the data in the XALT platform going forward.

Patrick Murphy: Russ has been a pleasure. Thanks so much for having me and equally, we are excited about what we’re going to be able to do in the institutional space.

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